Ms Hazel Poa: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what are the reasons behind the second review of the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) taking eight years to complete; (b) what are the main contentious issues in the second review of CECA; and (c) what are the issues under review in the current third review of CECA.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Gan Kim Yong
1. MTI periodically reviews our trade agreements to keep them updated and relevant given that economic interests, business models, regulations and trade flows between Singapore and its trade partners will change over time. All our Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), including the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), have provisions to review and amend the agreements.
2. There is no prescribed timeline for negotiating or reviewing FTAs. During the Second Review of CECA, both parties carefully studied the proposed changes, conducted consultations, exchanged views and discussed counter-proposals before reaching an agreement on a mutually beneficial package of amendments. The Second Review expanded tariff concessions for an additional 30 products and updated the rules of origin. These provide more flexibility for Singapore exports into India to qualify for preferential tariffs under the agreement. Singapore exporters benefit as their products become more price-competitive in India, while Indian consumers gain from lower-priced goods.
3. Details of past and on-going FTA negotiations between both parties are confidential. Revealing details, such as issues that are covered, would constitute a breach of confidentiality and erode trust in Singapore as a partner, making future negotiations more difficult. However, the outcome of the review is publicly available and the concluded text is published online.